Bishop Noll Institute STREAM Lab receives national recognition for excellence in design

Bishop Noll Institute STREAM Lab receives national recognition for excellence in design

The architecture and design company that designed Bishop Noll Institute’s new STREAM Lab has received an Award of Excellence from Learning by Design magazine for the project. The lab, which opened last year, was selected in the top 12 of more than 55 submitted projects from around the country.

Bishop Noll Principal Lorenza Jara Pastrick and a team of Bishop Noll teachers and students known as the STREAM Team envisioned the state-of-the-art lab as a way to utilize the large space in the school’s former natatorium. The lab design by architects from Wightman, located in Benton Harbor, Mich., was among four Honorable Mention Award winners named by the magazine.

The design was human-centered in exploring what teachers and students would be able to do in the new space that they could not do before in the Project Lead the Way STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) programs, said lead architect Gregory Monberg, the son of a Bishop Noll alum.

“There are a lot of great features in the STREAM Lab including dedicated spaces for small group work, instruction, design, prototyping and testing,” Monberg said. “The spiral stair connecting to the old spectator seating area provides an easy connection between the labs and breakout areas, which can be supervised from one space without students having to go out into the corridor. The makerspace and prototyping labs especially allow students to build, test, and tinker with the projects they design in a way that wasn’t possible in the previous spaces available.”

The lab design is STEM coming to life, said Pastrick. Bishop Noll currently runs four courses out of the STREAM Lab space and it is utilized by more than 160 students each day, she said. For example, while computer programming meets in the mezzanine, an engineering course takes place downstairs.

“It has been fruitful because it's meeting all the educational needs we had for our kids and is doing so in a functional and fluid way,” Pastrick said. “Even with COVID, we have been able to implement multiple sections and social distance students thanks to the size of the lab. We've had to be more creative, but it still functions.”

The STREAM Team worked together to develop each area of the lab, Pastrick said, and its success is a testament to the team's research and time they put into mindfully crafting the new space.

Bishop Noll senior Alejandra Castellanos, a STREAM Team member, said she loves working in the lab she helped design. 

“The large open space makes it easy to work in and gives us access to the equipment and materials we need when completing projects. I always knew that the lab was going to come out great - it’s a breath of fresh air that helps modernize the school - but I have to say it really did come out even better than I imagined. As soon as students walk in the room, they feel excited to get to work, promoting productivity, creativity and innovation.”

The Fall 2020 Awards of Excellence edition features a host of recently completed education facilities from across the United States. Learning spaces range from early childhood and elementary school environments to middle schools, high schools, specialized education and institutions of higher education.

Projects were juried on innovation; incorporation of sustainable construction and operational features; appropriate use and application of interior design elements; floorplans and physical space design that enhance Next Generation Learning pedagogies; good planning and functional design strategies; and meeting needs of communities they serve.

Twelve well-designed spaces were bestowed top awards. Four projects were awarded Grand Prize awards, four were designated with Citation of Excellence awards, and four Honorable Mention awards.

A panel of four peer-reviewed, scored and debated the merits of all the submissions.

Bishop Noll continues to be an educational beacon for the Region as it lights the way in the STEM arena, adding “R” for religion and “A” for the arts as the only fully integrated high school STREAM program in northern Indiana. At least one of every three jobs now requires STREAM skills, and student mastery of STREAM disciplines correlates to college success. Bishop Noll unveiled its $1.45 million STREAM Lab, located in the Whelan Innovation Center, last year. Students study science, technology, engineering and math with art and religion components in the lab, which was constructed with funds from the school’s Ignite & Inspire capital campaign and some assistance from the Diocese of Gary.

For information on how to enroll at Bishop Noll, please email Director of Admissions Jeff Stur at